Interview Tips for New Web Designers

Helpful interview tips for web designers looking to land their first job

Shaking hand during a job interview
Jeremy Girard

So you are fresh out of school and ready to enter the wonderful world of the web design industry! This is an exciting time, but it can also be one that is never wracking and stressful as you think about finding that first position in this industry. Job interviews are something that few people enjoy doing, and as a new web designer, the pressure of these interviews can feel even more intense.

Over the years, I have interviewed a number of fresh, new website designers for positions.

While different employers will be looking for different things, the tips covered here are ones that should benefit you regardless of the company you are interviewing with.

Have an Online Portfolio of Your Work 

When I review resumes, the first thing I look for is a link to a designer’s portfolio. It’s great to see their school information and work background, but I really want to see concrete examples of the work that they can do! I want to look at their designs and peruse their HTML and CSS code. That will give me a much better indication of a person’s abilities than seeing where they received their degree from – and if they do not have a degree, but can show that they can do the work, I am definitely interested in speaking to them more.

Many young designers find it challenging to have a portfolio of work is they have yet to have a job where they can do that work. Yes, this can be a hurdle, but it is easily overcome.

I would rather see examples of websites designed for fake companies than have nothing at all to look at. Even the designer’s own site is one that I want to review as I consider whether their work warrants a further conversation.

Bottom line, I have spoke to many new designers who had a great portfolio but no impressive degree or experience, but I have rarely, if ever, contacted a designer who had credentials but could not show any example of their work online.

Show Me You Want To Keep Learning

The web industry is one that requires lifelong learning. To stay up-to-date and relevant, web professionals must be committed to education in an industry that is constantly changing. When evaluating a new web designer, I look for a desire to keep learning long after they have left school.

Almost any interview will include some time where the candidate can ask questions of the interviewer. I always love it when that candidate asks about our company’s training policies. This shows that they are thinking about their ongoing education and are interested in growing in their field.

Know Something About Our Company

This is a tip that applies to all candidates for any position, anywhere. When the interviewer opens up the conversation for questions from you, we are looking for questions that are not readily answered on our website.  Doing this shows that you did not take the time to research our company properly before your interview.

On the flip side of this scenario, if you reference something that you did see on our website and ask for clarification or more details, that shows that you’ve done your homework and were well prepared for our conversation.

Know What You Want Out Of Your Career

If this is you first position, tell me what you want to do next.

I love to hear a new designer’s future goals and ambitions. Yes, those ambitions are often a bit lofty for a new professional, but that is awesome!  The enthusiasm of young designers is infectious and I want to see that enthusiasm shine through in your attitude and in your goals for the future of your career.

Tell Me What You Do Away From The Computer

During interviews, I always ask the question “what do you do away from the computer?” I absolutely hate it when candidates tell me that their whole life is about website design and that is all they really do in their free time in order to get better. When I hear this, I think one of two things are happening – either this person is lying to me and telling me what they think I want to hear (they are wrong) or they really do have no life away from the computer screen.

Neither of these are good and I don’t want to hire this person either way.

When I look to hire a new person, I am looking for someone who can not only do the actual work, but who will also fit the company culture and will be enjoyable to be around. After all, we will be spending lots of time together, so I want to hire someone who is not only a good designer, but an interesting person. One of the ways we can assess that is by talking about their hobbies, likes, and passions. If you refuse to talk about those because you think I only want to hear that you are a web designer 24/7, then I am unlikely to be interested in spending much time with you (which means you are not getting the job).

Try To Relax

For my final tip, I would simply suggest that you relax. Remember, the interviewer you are speaking with sat on your side of the table at one time too. Hopefully they remember that experience and all the emotions that you are undoubtedly feeling at that point. Be calm and just have a conversation, because at the end of the day, that is what this interview is about – two people having a discussion.

Edited by Jeremy Girard on 1/24/17